Background: Sarcoidosis is multi-system disease characterized by non-caseating granulomas, often presenting with pulmonary involvement. However, in the United States at least one-fourth of sarcoid patients have cardiovascular involvement. Sarcoid can also present as isolated cardiac sarcoidosis (CS), with symptoms that include heart failure (HF), advanced atrioventricular (AV) nodal block, ventricular tachycardia (VT), or sudden cardiac death. Consequently, it has been suggested that CS should be considered in patients presenting with high grade AV block, VT, or heart failure, with a non-ischemic presentation. Here, we present the CS experience at a tertiary medical center.
Methods: Patients who underwent 18F-FDG (2-deoxy-2-[fluorine-18]fluoro-D-glucose) PET/CT to assess perfusion and inflammation for clinical suspicion of CS between 2009-2015 at a tertiary referral center were included in the study. These patients were retrospectively assessed for frequency of presenting features.
Results: Inclusion criteria were met by 71 patients. VT was the most common presenting symptom seen in 40 of 71 patients (56%). High grade AV block was seen in 24 of 71 patients (34%). VT and high grade AV block was seen concomitantly in 9 (13%). An abnormal PET result was seen in 51 out of 71 patients (72%) with 30 of 51 having VT (59%) and 21 of 51 having AV block (41%). Of the patients with both VT and AV block, 8 of 9 had abnormal PET studies. In 34 of 71 (47%) patients with known extracardiac sarcoid, 18 (53%) had VT and 11 (32%) had AV block. HF symptoms (New York Heart Association class II-IV) were seen in 24 (34%). An abnormal resting ECG was seen in 64 out of 71 patients (90%).
Conclusions: In our retrospective cohort VT is the most common presenting symptom in patients with suspicion of CS, and the combination of AV block with VT should raise concerns for an infiltrative process. In patients with extracardiac sarcoid and rhythm disturbance, cardiac involvement should be suspected and screened. Early identification of cardiovascular involvement is critical to ensure that appropriate management of the source of rhythm disturbance or heart failure is addressed before cardiovascular dysfunction is sustained.